Patch Management Evolving, Expert Says

As most of you probably know already, a patch is just a fast fix for a bug in computer programs. It’s never really been intended as a panacea for problems—its utility lies in the speed in which it can be devised and implemented. However, what might not be common knowledge is the fact that the patch management sector is going beyond its bread-and-butter of simple patches.

“The patch management discipline is definitely evolving,” said Chris Farrow, director of the Center for Policy and Compliance at Configuresoft, which provides enterprise configuration management and regulatory compliance assessment software. “If you look at all the stand-alone patch management vendors and solutions, all of those are moving beyond just patch management. From the vendors’ standpoint, all those guys have now started expanding and changing the focus because that particular market is saturated.

“Everybody and their dog had a patch management process in there,” he added. “Everybody’s got—at a base level—the same functionality, so it’s very commoditized. It’s so commoditized that people take it for granted. The prices have been driven way down and that’s why a lot of vendors have expanded their scope and are going above and beyond that. The drivers now are high-profile security items and regulatory pressures. I think everybody’s either moving to a security context or more to the whole systems management provisioning area.”

While some of the conventional patch providers remain, both their numbers and influence on the field are dwindling, Farrow said. “There are still…



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